inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

PA Moderates Toomey, Fitzpatrick in the Midst of Gun Control Deal-Making

Washington lawmakers are forging ahead toward possible gun violence legislation, and two Pennsylvania Republicans are at the center of the effort.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers led by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey found common ground on gun control legislation that stands a chance of passing the Senate. Toomey (R-Pa.) told reporters 10 Republicans were “on board in principle” with a deal that could break through a GOP-led filibuster that stalled previous attempts.

“I do think it’s more likely than not that we will get something done in the Senate,” Toomey said last week.

Lawmakers involved in the negotiations said the measure provides “needed mental health resources, improves school safety and support for students, and helps ensure dangerous criminals and those who are adjudicated as mentally ill can’t purchase weapons.”

His comments came after the House passed a wide-ranging package of gun safety bills, called the Protecting Our Kids Act, in a 223-204 vote. It followed a tense hearing where victims of recent gun massacres across the U.S. urged lawmakers to take action.

The bills would raise the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, ban high-capacity magazines, require a registry for bump stocks, and tighten federal firearms regulations to apply to so-called “ghost guns,” which are manufactured without serial numbers by private citizens.

It would also create tax incentives for sales of safe storage devices and add criminal penalties for those who violate gun storage regulations at their residences.

Among the five Republicans voting for the package was Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks). He said that while the legislation was “far from perfect,” it was a “necessary step” to put pressure on the Senate to adopt a bipartisan proposal in the wake of mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, Buffalo, N.Y., and Tulsa, Okla.

Fitzpatrick said e supports Americans’ Second Amendment right to own guns but added there was “no higher responsibility” for lawmakers than protecting children from gun mayhem.

“Our policies should support responsible gun ownership. We must protect mentally healthy, law-abiding citizens’ right to protect and defend themselves, their families, their homes, and their communities, and we must also prevent mentally ill individuals and criminals from gaining access to firearms and causing harm to others. If we’re going to stop the violence plaguing our nation, we must all accept these basic premises,” he said.

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action said the House package threatened to “turn millions of law-abiding gun owners into felons.”

“This unconstitutional legislation would extinguish law-abiding adults’ Second Amendment rights and contends that these individuals are responsible enough to defend their country or vote in an election, but cannot be trusted to follow the law,” the group wrote on its website.

The Toomey-backed legislation, still being debated among the bipartisan group of senators, doesn’t go as far as the House package. But it would provide for an enhanced review process for buyers under age 21 and penalties for straw purchases, CNN reported.

The review process would include an “investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement.”

The proposal calls for support for crisis intervention and funding for school safety resources, a key point of contention among Republicans who accused Democrats of seizing on tragedies to push forward more restrictive gun laws.

Meanwhile, Delaware Valley Democrats at the state level are pushing for further gun restrictions. Sate Sen. Steven Santarsiero (D-Bucks) proposed legislation that would ban military-style weapons in the Keystone State.

He told reporters at a news conference in Lower Makefield Township that the measure was modeled after a 2013 Connecticut law that banned high-capacity magazines and provided a voluntary buyback program for gun owners.

“Military-style weapons have no place in civilian society,” Santarsiero said. “Easy access to assault weapons is one of the greatest threats to the health and safety of Pennsylvanians.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

RNC Honcho Fires Up Volunteers at Bucks Co. Republican Headquarters

About 50 volunteers came to the Bucks County Republican Headquarters in Doylestown last week to learn the ins and outs of door-knocking and phone calling for the upcoming midterm elections.

Before the training began they heard remarks from Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick and from Tommy Hicks, Jr., National Republican Committee co-chair from Texas.

“We’ve got a generational opportunity to grow the Republican Party,” Hicks told the Delaware Valley Journal. “And frankly it’s because we stand for faith, freedom, and opportunity, and it’s clear to the American people that the Democrats now stand for what is effectively socialism and government control.”

Tommy Hicks Jr.

Hicks says he believes the Republican message “resonates with the American people. We need to take this momentum and try to make it permanent across the country and especially here in Pennsylvania, which is ground zero for the midterms in 2022.”

Hicks said other Philadelphia collar counties, which have been in the Democratic recently, can return to the GOP, following the example of Bucks County in 2021, where Republican candidates swept the county row officer races.

“We’ve made some good progress in November with some municipal races and some school boards,” said Hicks. “I think the momentum is on our side. We can push on that momentum. We have a generational opportunity to give power back to the people and take it away from unelected bureaucrats.”

Asked about Chester County, where voter registration has given the Democrats an advantage, he said, “Everything’s in play. Right now the Republican Party and the RNC (believe) everything that Joe Biden won by 10 or 12 points, we think is in play right now.

“So we’re going to be investing resources,” he said. “We’re going to be recruiting volunteers, and I think there’s an opportunity to make massive pick-ups in Pennsylvania and across the country.”

Hicks said he’s spent a lot of time in the state before the 2016 and 2020 elections, as well as for business. He’s a private equity investor.

“I’m from Texas, and I think Pennsylvania can be the next Texas with all the energy jobs you can create,” said Hicks. “There’s a huge opportunity here, throughout Pennsylvania. And we just need the right kind of political and policy leadership to make that take place. And I’m hugely optimistic about the future of this commonwealth.”

“I love the people in Pennsylvania,” said Hicks. “They remind me a lot of Texans—in a good way. People respect entrepreneurs and risk-takers, and I like that. That’s the American way.”

Asked why he is involved with politics, Hicks, who has been RNC co-chair for three years, said, “Because I love our country and when you’re given an opportunity to be involved in leadership politically you’ve got to make the most of it.”

Hicks mentioned he wants to preserve the America he loves for his three daughters.

“With this movement, we have right now to give America back to the American people and take it away from Washington, who feels entitled to control the American people, it’s an opportunity you can’t refuse. And you’ve got to work day and night to make sure you help get the American people out of this situation where Washington controls every aspect of your life,” he said.

Later, Hicks told the volunteers he got involved after Democrat Barack Obama became president and he was unhappy with his policies.

“Little did I know that a friend of mine’s father was going to run for president (referring to Donald Trump). I said, ‘Can I carry your bags?’” said Hicks. “We all get started as volunteers in different ways. This is the lifeblood of our movement.”

In introducing Hicks, Fitzpatrick described Bucks County as being partly rural, partly suburban with middle-class and blue-collar areas.

“Bucks County is a crossroads, it’s a slice of America,” said Fitzpatrick.

“It’s a swing district–”

“Not this year,” Hicks cut in, prompting laughs.

“It’s incredibly important this year,” said Fitzpatrick, who noted that not just federal offices but state and local seats are in play. “It’s all-important,” he said.

Hicks told the group, “This is ground zero for us to take back this republic from the radical Democrats So we are focused on growing the party. Congratulations to Pennsylvania. We’ve shrunk the lead by 200,000 registered voters. We’re going to continue working on that. We’re going to continue messaging. We’re going to continue to recruit people for state and local offices.

“People understand what’s at stake,” he said. “I have three little girls and we’ve fought for generations for what we have. We cannot let it go. And it goes away if we do not win this November.”

Follow us on social media: Twitter: @DV_Journal or

Three ‘America First’ Challengers May Take on Fitzpatrick in GOP Primary

Incumbent Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) may face three challengers in the May 17 primary, all espousing the populist conservatism championed by former President Donald Trump. Democrats say it is a sign Fitzpatrick, who has defied political gravity in his Democratic-leaning district, is in trouble in 2022. Republicans, however, tell Delaware Valley Journal they aren’t worried.

Fitzpatrick’s potential primary challengers — Caroline Avery, Brad Lanning, and Dasha Pruett — say they believe America is heading in the wrong direction thanks to elected Republicans and Democrats alike who they claim have misused their power. They believe the nation needs an “America First” approach to politics.

The district, as it stands prior to an impending new redistricting map, primarily consists of suburban Bucks County, a swing county that voted for Joe Biden over Donald Trump by 4.4 percent in 2020. Fitzpatrick has held on to the seat over two election cycles by embracing political moderation. He has established himself as a hawk on foreign issues like confronting China, and according to the data analysts at FiveThirtyEight, he voted with President Trump nearly 62 percent of the time.

However, he has joined with Democrats on numerous domestic legislative efforts, including the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure bill championed by President Biden.

Fitzpatrick’s primary challengers see this middle-of-the-road approach as a weakness.

Caroline Avery

“Brian just joined 12 other turncoat Republicans to give Nancy Pelosi, the radical leftist leader of the House Democrats, a win she couldn’t get from her own house members,” Caroline Avery’s website says.

It’s time for the district to elect a “real Republican,” she said.

“A true Republican is someone who believes in limited government and states rights, fiscal responsibility, supporting the constitution as written, American Exceptionalism, and capitalism,” she told Delaware Valley Journal.

Brad Lanning

Lanning, a small business consultant and most recently a stay-at-home dad, focused on economic issues that he disagrees with Fitzpatrick on during an interview. Contrary to the incumbent’s stance, he says we need to remake international trade agreements to protect American jobs and disagrees with Fitzpatrick’s willingness to hike the minimum wage to $15-per-hour, which he says will price out American workers in favor of jobs overseas.

But Lanning also pointed to Fitzpatrick’s social issues stances as points of disagreement.

“He [Fitzpatrick] supported the so-called Equality Act, which would introduce sex to kids at too early an age and destroy the positive effects of feminism,” said Lanning. “I would support withholding funding to states that allow for teaching racist curriculum like CRT (Critical Race Theory). And I would support withholding funding from states that don’t hold radical District Attorney’s accountable.”

Dasha Pruett, a Delaware County resident and native of Russia, ran and lost in Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District in 2020. She’s reportedly considering moving to Bucks County, is also looking at challenging Fitzpatrick. She has not yet been listed on the Federal Election Commission website, and her website also does not yet list the 1st District—it still mentions her 2020 run for the Pennsylvania 5th.

Dasha Pruett

In an interview with Philly radio host Chris Stigall on Jan. 7,  Pruett also castigated Fitzpatrick for not embracing the “America First” agenda.

“If you don’t believe in your own country, and you’re running around trying to protect everyone else, then what are you protecting, what are you saving? Again, this is the greatest country in the world,” she said.

Democratic election officials see the growing list of challengers for the Republican nomination as an opportunity in the making.

“A third GOP primary challenger underscores how vulnerable Brian Fitzpatrick is heading into 2022,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson James Singer said in a statement.

But Christopher Nicholas, principal at Eagle Consulting Group in Harrisburg, disagrees.

“If past performance is the best indicator of future performance, then look at his previous GOP primary challengers. How’d they do? Not so good.”

Indeed, Fitzpatrick beat Andrew Meehan in the 2020 primary by 26.6 percent. Meehan, similar to this year’s challengers, positioned himself as an “America First” conservative hoping to replace a “Democrat, masquerading as a Republican,” as he called Fitzpatrick.

“The America-First language can definitely appeal to a portion of the GOP electorate, but not all of it,” said Albert Eisenberg, a political consultant who has worked in Fitzpatrick’s district. “[Fitzpatrick] is also probably the only Republican who can win his district, and regularly outperforms national Republicans, and that’s why he’s been able to hold this seat and make it one less vote for the Pelosi agenda from Pennsylvania.”

All the challengers dismiss the claim that only a moderate can win in this swing district.

“Talking to people across District 1, I have tried to get my finger on the pulse of what is going on,” said Lanning. “They feel they’ve been lied to. They feel that they voted for someone [Fitzpatrick] who’d represent conservative policies and they did not get that candidate.”

Fitzpatrick is unlikely to abandon his moderate bona fides.

“I will always reject the bigotry of hyper-partisanship and I will always fight for our families and for our One Community,” he Tweeted in July, after raking in a record-breaking $1.1 million in the second quarter of 2021.

Follow us on social media: Twitter: @DV_Journal or